VANCOUVER, BC — Member of Parliament from Vancouver East Jenny Kwan has been calling on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement for more than a year now, following the US travel ban against certain Muslim countries in January 2017.
Kwan says the recent controversy on the separation of children from parents at the US immigration border shoss why it should have been done immediately.
“It really reaffirmed the notion that the US is no longer a safe country; even though Trump has now backtracked on taking the children away from their parents, still their policies are not safe for asylum seekers,” says Hon. Kwan.
The Safe 3rd Country Agreement is a treaty between the two countries to manage the flow of refugee claimants at the shared land border.
Simply put, with both the US and Canada considered as safe havens, refugee seekers can only claim asylum on where they first arrive.
While Trudeau asserts that what the US has been doing is wrong, he isn’t quick to change his mind on the agreement.
He adds that while Canadians continue to stand up for human rights around the world, he will not play politics with it.
“Candians across the country are very concerned with the stories and images we’ve witnessed… whats’ happening in the United States is wrong,” said Trudeau. “I cannot imagine what these families are going through. As I’ve said many times, the Safe Third Country is over 10 years old. We will continually look for ways to modernize it, and will continue as well to closely monitor the developments in the United States.”
Kwan however believes that if Canada does not step up, the country adds to the problem.
If refugee claimants are denied entry at the border due to the agreement, it forces them to cross illegally, risking not just their safety but those of Canadians living near the border as well.
“Why are we forcing people to risk life and limb to get to safety? And in addition to the risks for the asylum seekers themselves, were also creating a huge challenge for border communities and that to me is wrong. We need the govt to take action.”
Kwan has sponsored Petition E-1755 at the House of Commons for the immediate suspension of the Third Safe Country Agreement.
It lists among others, the US Muslim travel ban recent separation of children from their parents, and the zero-tolerance policy on irregular border crossings as reasons for the petition.
Petition E-1755 is open for signature to all Canadian residents and citizens until October 20.